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"My case is perhaps one of those that proves anyone can catch this," Palin tells PEOPLE.

By Benjamin VanHoose and Tim McGovern
April 01, 2021
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Sarah Palin
Credit: D Dipasupil/Getty

Sarah Palin has tested positive for COVID-19, and she's urging others to continue taking the pandemic seriously.

The former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee-turned-TV personality confirms in a statement to PEOPLE that she contracted the coronavirus as did some of her family members, including 12-year-old son Trig.

Palin, 57 — who is a mom to five children with ex-husband Todd — says her case is proof that "anyone can catch this."

It was a recent diagnosis: In an Instagram video on Tuesday night, she said the "worst thing about COVID" was that "when you're not feeling well, don't you still just want your mom?"

"As confident as I'd like to be about my own health, and despite my joking that I'm blessed to constantly breathe in the most sterile (frozen!) air, my case is perhaps one of those that proves anyone can catch this," she says in her statement.

Of her illness, Palin explains that it began when "one of my daughters awoke to having lost her sense of taste and smell [and] immediately had a positive COVID test, then was quarantined in isolation."

"I then observed symptoms in my son Trig, who curiously is the most enthusiastic mask-wearer, and after our numerous negative tests over the year, he tested positive," Palin says. "Children with special needs are vulnerable to COVID ramifications [Trig was born with Down syndrome], so with a high fever he was prescribed azithromycin, which really seemed to help, and I increased amounts of vitamins I put in his puréed food."

Palin says she and her son "buckled down in isolated quarantine" and she "still tested negative." However, "symptoms started overnight with a slight fever and sore muscles."

She adds that she had some of the "bizarre" symptoms characteristic of the virus, like a loss of taste and smell, leading her to assume it was "unmistakable COVID caught me."

"That day I finally tested positive — like millions of other Americans," she says.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
| Credit: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Palin tells PEOPLE that COVID-19 can "really knock you down," encouraging everyone to remain vigilant about public health amid the ongoing pandemic.

"I strongly encourage everyone to use common sense to avoid spreading this and every other virus out there," she says in her statement. "There are more viruses than there are stars in the sky, meaning we'll never avoid every source of illness or danger ... But please be vigilant, don't be frightened, and I advise reprioritizing some personal time and resources to ensure as healthy a lifestyle as you can create so when viruses do hit, you have at least some armor to fight it."

Palin, who announced in January that her mother, Sally, had died, says that dad Chuck Heath "just got" his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm more concerned about him and his peers, and this beautiful older generation's health and quality of life should be a national focus and priority," she says.

In a plea to others to continue wearing masks in public, Palin joked about her surprise appearance on The Masked Singer last year. (Mask-wearing has become a divisive issue among leading conservatives — a skepticism first fueled by former President Donald Trump.)

"Through it all, I view wearing that cumbersome mask indoors in a crowd as not only allowing the newfound luxury of being incognito, but trust it's better than doing nothing to slow the spread," Palin says. "And history will show we Masked Singer visitors were masked before being masked was cool."

According to data compiled by The New York Times, more than 550,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the United States, with more than 30 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

Recent polls have shown that while more Americans say they will get vaccinated when eligible, a PBS poll released earlier this month showed that 49 percent of Republican men say they don't intend to get the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said he was "very surprised" by the poll and called on President Trump to urge his followers to get vaccinated, which he did.

President Joe Biden, in a March 18 speech, emphasized that vaccines will help end the pandemic, noting that some states are seeing a rise in cases as newer variants spread through the country.

"Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to fight back against these variants," he said.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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This story originally appeared on people.com